A Ragpicker group in Northern Jutland: WHO we were:
7 Pictures of Women, April 1970
The Oslo Trip 1970
Hudegården, the summer 1970
WHAT was the situation like at the time:
Clothes For Africa
Folk Music: 1971 - 93
and WHERE did the idea come from:
The rise of the consumer society
Interactivity within the ragpicking work
Finn Thybo Andersen:
About the antiimperialistic solidarity group Clothes For Africa Løgstør
Who and how many were we and the daily work
Conditions for the antiimperialistic solidarity- work.
Clothes for Africa Løgstør is founded
Cooperation withClothes For Africa in Copenhagen, and the break with them
Cooperation with Tvind, UFF and the flea market in Bislev
Choosing a new cause for support
Cooperation with the Eritreans
Cooperation with IMCC and Danchurchaid
Cooperation with the Ragpicking Group in Ollerup and Antiimperialistic Solidarity in Odense and Viborg. Seminars.
TTAL breaks up in 1987 -1988
Marianne Søgaard Sørensen:
To be of use - about a humanitarian, an ecological and a (missing) political perspective on the work with clothing.
The journey to Eritrea 1885
Skema over forsendelser
Skema over økonomisk støtte
Litterature: Books of special significance to TTAL
" The natural sequence of activities, i.e. nothing comes from nothing: it is a continuation of preceeding relations and actions." (Jytte Rex)
A ragpicking group in northern Jutland, Who we were, What the actual situation was and Where the idea came from:
Who we were:
Two artists that left the city in 1971 to go into the countryside with the little red book in the hand as the red guards in Mao's China did, get off the horse, pick a flower or stay for ten years. The latter we did.
Finn and I came from the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen where we had been until 1970. There Finn had a part in the starting up of an experimental group of students. It was called Kanonklubben ["The Canon Club"] and later I joined it. The name came from the fact that they had bought a super 8 Canon camera, a name which in an unpretentious way stood for a group of young rebellious art students, who in the spirit of that time wanted to upset the system and who demanded a department without a professor, which we also obtained during a short period, and who were looking for new ways of developing the work of art, inspired by the Experimental School (which Finn had attended) and by Fluxus. Both of which positioned themselves strongly in the Copenhagen art life in the 60's.
Apart from the great number of individual and collective (when the camera passed from hand to hand) super8 films, that were all characterised by that they in a nice poetic and beautifully registering, more or less project oriented way, described the world that surrounded us with a partiality for the plain, unpretentious surroundings. We invented the "dogmas" with the hand held camera and no smart editing afterwards. The sound was then found in the music world and played simultaneously with the films at the showing, on a tape recorder of the time: a Tandberg.
Besides the films, there were two big collective projects: The Garden and 7 Pictures Of Women.
The Garden, 1969/70:
Instead of an exhibition of art works in the aisles of the new built elite project the Peter Lykke centre at Amager, a final home for old people from the Copenhagen Bro neighbourhood, we created a garden in an atrium, in accordance with the old people's wishes and dreams of a garden.
From closed down allotments, in the autumn, we brought perennials, bushes, bulbs and even an octagonal garden house, that in the spring got reinstalled in a delightful garden with a lake, bridge, rock garden and a garden house. We cast a beautiful birdbath together with the residents. It was out of broken pieces of faience service which were found in the earth during the digging. The group greatly expanded during this action. We were many people that worked laying out the garden, paid normal hourly wages with money from different funds, among others the Carlsberg foundation. The garden still exists and can be seen almost 30 years after it was "built".
7 women pictures: the Prostitute, the Washing-up, the Beauty saloon, the Wedding cake, the Defence, the Coats, the Camp.
Today, in 1999, we can swagger about this being the first women´s exhibition in Denmark. It happened during the newly started Women's Lib period that had its first constituting meeting in the assembly hall at Charlottenborg. During the same week, independently, the exhibition "7 Pictures of Women" was arranged at the same place (so of course we participated in the meeting). Maybe it was the first women's exhibition in the world since it was clearly before the American feminists´exhibitions in the 70´s 1. Nobody wanted the exhibition, so after many attempts in vain, it was arranged in the Rådskælderen at Charlottenborg, which at this moment was both the premises of the school council and an exhibition place. The "7 Pictures of Women" became an exhibition which had seven tableaus describing women's isolated and oppressed situation in the society and ended by offering a way - together with other women - to create new connections.
("That women aren't spiritually and intellectually creative beings, good at handicraft, but for real art they don't have enough spiritual and intellectual capacity, is a dogma, which one still has the impression exists in the best of health, in any case at the public institutions-although in disguise" (Jytte Rex, - "Billed som Kampmiddel").
A photo documentation was the end of the women's exhibition, and from this point two opposite attitudes arose which became decisive for subsequent projects/actions throughout the 70's and in the further events and decisions. These attitudes were, to a great extent, the conditions to start Clothes for Africa, and perhaps they had a political basis: On one hand, there was the description of the oppression of the bourgeois woman that later became the core of the Women's Lib movement with new ways of living, the dissolution of the nuclear family and experiments with the collective. On the other hand, there was solidarity with women in the surrounding world and with women from different social classes.
The Oslo Trip in May 1970:
Finn and Per Bille (also one of the driving forces in Kanonklubben) got invited to the Young Nordic Biennial and decided to buy 50 return tickets for the Oslo ferry and distribute them to 50 youths (mostly artists, musicians and architects). They were to be installed at the art museum in Oslo, as a piece of art, together with youths from Oslo, invited to participate in a pickup concert with musicians from both capitals. The concert was held the very same evening. We had brought Furkåben from Copenhagen with Hans Vinding. Before the concert, the crowd managed to make a great commotion in the Norwegian capital. Dressed up as Indians with red ribbons round the head and red banners (it had just been May the first) they were photographed in front of the banks and the sights of the city with a big banner on which it said "PEOPLE OF THE WORLD UNITE". In the evening we got removed from the museum and installed in a mountain hut, to be transported home the next day. To us it was the final break with the art world and after the arrival in Copenhagen we moved directly to Hudegården together with many other Oslo-goers.
A squatting residence at Vesterbro run by "Slumstormerne" (the Squatters) from the office in Magstræde. Hudegården became the next project with common meetings where common issues were discussed and decisions ma de about the organisation (medical consultation, cafe and restaurant), maintenance of the squatting (barricades and guards) and political actions (demonstrations).The main task was to create an alternative adventure playground for the children of the block and the first outlying kindergarten of Copenhagen.
A political action, collective living and a local/social project.
WHAT was the situation like at the time?
Away from the city with all it's possibilities and isolated from fellow beings with shared ideas, placed in a totally different society structure, we had to find new possibilities. This was not just to maintain our own lives, but also to continue the research in possibilities that develop society. This is what working with art, creativity, in it's basis is all about. That is, without the heavy daily influence from a culture centre, a vacuum appeared where new ideas could come up.
There were groups (among others Det Ny Samfund [The New Society]) who came to Northern Jutland to experiment with alternative social structures. Small, closed communities were created where those within the enclosure could build new, exciting architecture, collectives, etc (Frøstruplejren). The squatting of Livø was a political/aesthetical action with a collective concept and the cultivation of your own vegetables as an idea., but we had decided to learn from the people not to isolate ourselves, but to integrate and intervene with the local population.
The folk music: 1971-93
We started playing folk music with old people in the area, an art form that had survived among the farmers uninterruptedly from earlier times and was passed on from generation to generation. Himmerland was known for its many musicians. Our closest neighbour was a musician. He played the accordion and his father the violin. The well known Rask Polka was composed in the 30's by one of the area's finest musicians who had lived in a small, neighbouring cottage where the son Rask still lived. A light blue chest in the attic contained the old sheets of music (our valuable cultural heritage) which were getting eaten by all kinds of small creatures. In the musicians' museum at Rebil, there was orchestral play for musicians every Monday, and we went there once a week for many years and learned the music as well as got acquainted with the musicians. Later on, we started playing folk music at dances with the local associations.
WHERE did the idea come from?
Clothes For Africa arose in this aesthetic and political void.
It was a project which could be done in the 70's.
We were looking for a position from which the local population could participate actively in a social, humanistic and political action.
One day, we read in an alternative, architecture magazine about Emmaus Björkås, a Swedish ragpicker group in Småland, who sent used clothes to liberation movements in the third world.
The ragpicker work was exactly designed for this function: We could use resources, traditions that already existed, we just had to make an approach, and therefore there were never any problems in getting clothes and fleamarket goods. The collecting for relief work and foreign mission work was an old tradition in the Home Mission, which had strong origins in the local population. It was completely comprehensible and a humane action to deliver one's old, worn out clothes to people in need. (the Salvation Army, the Red Cross etc.)
The rise of the consumer society
The rising welfare in the 60's after a huge explosion in the labour market resulted in that two in a family earned money and the consumption escalated concurrently with the industry pouring out an enormous amount of new commodities; people wanted new things even if the old things weren't worn out. An enormous surplus came up.
Interactivity within the ragpicking work
By collecting the surplus and recycling it for humanitarian purposes, we solved several problems at the same time: We could make people aware of the conditions in other parts of the world and get them involved in an action, in the project.
Leaflets about the collection of clothes were handed out to households, and press releases about the annual flea market were sent to newspapers and local radio stations that covered the whole province. Here we informed about the political conditions in those countries where we supported the liberation movements. We also told about the fact that the clothes were given to the liberation movements that distributed them in the refugee camps over which they had taken responsibility.
Last but not least essential, because of their tremendous contribution, the core of the group," the activists", who took actively part in the daily work, were recruited from the local community.
It was our basis that Clothes For Africa should be both a local/social and a political/global project, and at this point we were radically different from the other solidarity groups in Denmark, with which we later had a close collaboration.
1: "The Power of Feminist Art", 1994, Harry N. Abrahams, N.Y,
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